The Gordian Knot is a legend associated with Alexander the Great. It was prophesied by the Phrygian oracle that whoever was able to untie the "knot" would become the king of Asia. In 333 BC, wintering
at Gordium, Alexander the Great attempted to untie the knot. When he could find no end to the knot, to unbind it, he sliced it in half with a stroke of his sword, producing the required ends (the
so-called Alexandrian Solution) and fulfilling the prophecy by conquering known Asia.
Last year there was a slew of solutions presented by the major broadcast and cable networks to unravel
the commercial conundrum: TV viewers don't like to watch commercials, or at least not non-engaging ones, will do anything to avoid them and yet they must be sustained to provide the fuel by which the
free TV industry is powered --$70 billion worth.
Some attempts at unraveling the knot:
ABC's "pop ups" on props in shows that clicked upon would balloon to full screen
"content wraps" that weaved products into short two or three minute video clips
Fox's "Oleg" animated celebrity spoofs
NBC's live commercial introductions into "The
MTV's "sponsor-branded clips segments" bridging programming and commercials
Turner Broadcasting's "bitcoms," or comedy shorts that lead into commercial breaks
Somehow these aforementioned examples seemed like the Emperor's new clothes or the latest approach to commercial haberdashery, ones that the TV viewer saw through, activating their remote control
(fast-forwarded or channel surfed) or just simply disengaged.
This year's network attempts to get viewers to pay attention to ads instead of fast forwarding through them or disapparating
from the TV room seem as disingenuous: minishows or mini-series that extend the length of commercial pods with salient infomercial characteristics, live commercials haloed by late night program hosts,
short video clips that require viewers to go to multiple platforms (TV and broadband) to ascertain sequential story lines, lynch pinning brand into story (inclusive of a slew of prominent camera
cameos) and significantly reducing the number of commercials and promotional announcements in freshmen programs to encourage viewer engagement - a rationale based upon the hypothesis that TV
watchers select programs not because of content but rather the number of non-program interruptions.
Maybe we should take Alexander's approach. If the traditional tactic of trying to fool
the TV viewer into engaging with a marketer's message is not working. then maybe we should deploy the sword or technology in today's parlance. Interactive TV applications hold the promise of engaging
those consumers to whom the message is most relevant. Opting in through telescoping features, requests for interaction, microsites, long-form video, addressability, dynamic ad insertion and blind
matching these applications with datamining (lifestyle) and subscriber television viewing usage could solve the riddle to gain the kingdom